Echoes of a voice

Prior to his tragic exit from this plane, Matt Kuhns set a few pieces of writing to publish after his death. One is an extensive catalogue of citations, each one underscoring the responsibility of certain “climate wreckers” in the vast public understanding of our planetary crisis. This is not a short list of links; rather, it is a damning indictment, and it should be read as such. “A little over 16 years ago,” he wrote. “I started keeping a list of people and organizations to blame for the ruin of a favorable climate, and all the pain and misery which will accompany that.” It’s a fascinating piece, one that could only come together through sheer commitment to craft.

Matt was a staunch supporter (and ardent, whip-smart critic) of independent journalism. In his writing, I saw a fellow traveler. He wrote about American delusion and about the merits of working together for a better future. Over at his blog, he frequently linked back to my own writing on those subjects, and we traded ideas about societal collapse via Twitter. He had a keen ability to communicate his ideas on several levels at once: the immediate, the long-term, the internal, the external. This is rare in digital media, especially in the small-pond feedback loop of local leftist political voices, such as he swam here in the Cleveland area. My sense is that Matt was mostly well known for his local political activism and his astute commentary on, e.g., the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party’s rhythmic missteps. I tended to see in his work a set of deeper, more global concerns.

I first met Matt when I was a beat reporter in Lakewood, covering City Hall and the school board. His coverage ran circles around my own, and he struck me as a fine example of how one might approach political reporting. When I worked at Scene, he provided regular comments on my work and my colleagues’ work. He was honest in his assessments, especially when we missed the mark, and he always held up the paper as a beacon of truth in Northeast Ohio. That meant a lot to me.

Really, though, I’m writing this to highlight the writing he did at I saw tendencies that reflected my own stuff here at (I don’t mean to purport to speak for him, but) I saw a drive to get thoughts down in writing, to commit lofty ideals to paper, if only for his own sake. He was a good writer. I admired that drive. He was curious about how the world worked, and how his own life intersected with those strange machinations. As I dug into his own writing, I felt the tug of a voice further down the rabbit hole of hope and eudaimonic aspiration.

The last piece I wrote here, a few months back (!), was about discipline. From what I could tell, Matt brought that to his writing. His voice should remain an inspiration to anyone toiling away on the difficult struggle of ideas and words and the grand sweep of history.

And to anyone feeling the burdensome weight of that struggle: please drop me a line. Know that you are not alone, however small of a consolation that seems. I’d like to assure you (and myself) in my own fringe way that, yes, joy is present.

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